Elegant interior of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel.

The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.
The south side of the historic U.S. Grant Hotel, as seen from an upper level of Horton Plaza. The 1910 Broadway Fountain is visible in Horton Plaza Park.

During last weekend’s San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017, I ventured into one of the event’s featured downtown locations: the historic U.S. Grant Hotel. I was able to get some photos of the hotel’s elegant interior!

The U.S. Grant was built by Ulysses S. Grant, Jr., the son of American President Ulysses S. Grant. The building was designed by architect Harrison Albright and built in the same spot where Alonzo Horton had his 1870 Horton House Hotel, which was demolished.

The U.S. Grant Hotel opened in 1910. It featured a steel and reinforced concrete framework to counter the threats of fire and California earthquakes. For over a hundred years the grand old hotel has stood prominently at the center of downtown San Diego. Notable guests have included 15 United States Presidents (there are 3 different presidential suites), Albert Einstein and Charles Lindbergh.

It’s also interesting to note the very first San Diego Comic-Con was held in the U.S. Grant, back in 1970.

The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
The east side entrance of the elegant U.S. Grant Hotel on Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
I entered the hotel from the east entrance, where many guests arrive.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
The elegant interior just inside the east entrance.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Large glittering chandeliers add a glamorous touch throughout the posh hotel.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Some beautiful artwork above stairs descending to the Crystal Ballroom.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel's entrance on Broadway.
Standing in the grand lobby, looking south toward the U.S. Grant Hotel’s entrance on Broadway.
The U.S. Grant Hotel's front desk.
The U.S. Grant Hotel’s front desk.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
The beautiful lobby, fit for royalty.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
A small sculpture near the Broadway entrance is titled Sweet Dreams, by artist David A. Montour.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
Even the hotel elevators are beautiful.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
A sitting area near the bank of elevators.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
Portraits along this wall include Native Americans. The U.S. Grant Hotel was bought by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in 2003. It is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
North of the elevators is this large Presidential Portrait of Ulysses S. Grant.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Old photo of the Horton House, which stood at this downtown San Diego location before its demolition.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
Headline of The Evening Tribune announces the opening of the U.S. Grant Hotel on October 15, 1910.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
On display is a 1910 US Grant Hotel door knob.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.
A look across the U.S. Grant Hotel lobby from the mezzanine level. Pure elegance.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Art and history at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
People walk along Broadway near the entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

One of the sites that I visited this weekend during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017 was the SDSU Downtown Gallery. I’d never stepped into the small art gallery before. Rotating exhibits feature the work of faculty and students at SDSU.

The building in which the gallery is housed, located at the corner of Kettner Boulevard and Broadway, served as the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway. The historic railway, which served a large area of early San Diego, was established by John D. Spreckels.

According to a short tour and handout I was given, a circa 1900 building at this location served as an earlier San Diego Electric Railway power house, railcar barn and paint shop. Some enormous doors still exist in the building today where train cars would enter and exit. I also learned the extravagant 1897 Los Banos bathhouse stood at the building’s northwest corner–but there remains no trace of that historic old structure.

In 1921, San Diego Consolidated Gas and Electric Company purchased Station B, and two additions to the building were subsequently made. The additions were designed by famed architect William Templeton Johnson.

Today the original Station B power plant contains powerful works of art, and forms a section of the base of the skyscraping Electra Building, a modern residential development built in 2008.

Please enjoy some photos of the gallery and the historic building.

If you love art and find yourself downtown while the gallery is open, swing on by!

I took this photo at another time. Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this used to be the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Now part of the high-rise Electra Building, this originally was the 1911 Station B power plant of the San Diego Electric Railway.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Historical ornamentation above the front entrance of the SDSU Downtown Gallery.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Walk through these beads to enjoy a small but dynamic art gallery in downtown San Diego.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Works on the gallery walls were produced by faculty and students at San Diego State University. Exhibits change every few months.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Description of current gallery exhibit by faculty and students of San Diego State University. Every Which Way investigates artistic experience and human movement.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Visitor to the gallery checks out thought-provoking artwork.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Fear/Less, 2016, by Troy Guard.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
Works of human imagination along one wall.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
The serigraphs on this wall were made by students in the SDSU Graphic Design program. Imagery depicts ocean and desert ecosystems as migratory environments.
More eye-catching works of art.
More eye-catching works of art.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
Some of the pieces are quite unusual and creative.
A short talk begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation's OPEN HOUSE 2017.
A short tour begins in the SDSU Downtown Gallery–Just one fascinating tour during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s OPEN HOUSE 2017.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
We are shown various photos, including Station B behind Santa Fe Depot in the 1960s. The smokestacks were removed in the 1980s.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
Old photo of Los Banos, a bathhouse which was located just south of Santa Fe Depot. The neo-Moorish structure designed by William S. Hebbard and Irving J. Gill opened in 1897.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn. Was coal for the power plant unloaded here? I don't know.
One of the enormous, heavy doors is opened from inside the historic building. I was told these were used for a railcar barn.
Our tour walks along Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Our small tour group walks down the sidewalk along the Broadway side of the SDSU Downtown Gallery building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
Now we are at the southeast corner of the large Electra Building, which rises above the historic San Diego Gas and Electric building.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.
A symbolic painting inside the SDSU Downtown Gallery. Waves Inside, 2016, by Alison Zuniga.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

A beautiful environmental Sea Wall in Hillcrest.

A beautiful mural in Hillcrest behind Artist and Craftsman Supply depicts flowers and sea life.
A beautiful mural in Hillcrest behind Artist and Craftsman Supply depicts flowers and sea life.

Walk around to the rear parking lot at Artist and Craftsman Supply on Fourth Avenue in Hillcrest and you’ll discover a very colorful mural. It was painted in 2016 by Jet Martinez during the Sea Wall: Murals for Oceans festival in San Diego, an environmental street art project organized by the PangeaSeed Foundation.

This beautiful spray paint mural concerns the impact of floriculture on ocean ecosystems. Many flowers are grown in San Diego’s North County. In floriculture, pesticide runoff into the ocean can be a problem. Fertilizer runoff into the ocean can also cause harmful effects, including massive algae blooms and hypoxic (low-oxygen) areas.

Colorful street art painted by Jet Martinez during the 2016 Sea Wall Murals for Oceans festival.
Environmental street art created by Jet Martinez during the 2016 Sea Wall: Murals for Oceans festival.
The left part of the mural. Like an underwater garden.
The left part of the mural. Like an underwater garden.
A fish in the ocean needs a clean environment to live.
A fish in the ocean needs clean water to live.
A bright orange fish swims past jewel-like flowers.
A bright orange fish swims past jewel-like flowers.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Happy environmental art in a city park!

Lots of colorful tile art with happy environmental themes decorates this trash can in downtown San Diego's Pantoja Park.
Lots of tiles painted with happy environmental themes. ┬áTogether they form a mosaic that decorates this trash can in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park.

I love mosaics that are composed of ceramic tiles painted by ordinary people–young people in particular. It’s like a patchwork of inner visions, expressed from many hearts.

The Envirocan in downtown San Diego’s Pantoja Park is a special trashcan that is decorated with tiles that were hand-painted by young artists. Most of the colorful images express environmental themes. Clean air, clean water . . . plus lots of smiles. Smiles are good for the environment, right? Of course they are.

ESI Art Corps San Diego. Envirocan, donated by Dick Butler. "One Who Cares"
ESI Art Corps San Diego. Envirocan – Donated by Dick Butler. “One Who Cares”
One side of the Envirocan features a female face. Perhaps it is Mother Earth.
One side of the Envirocan features a female face. Perhaps it is Mother Earth.
Colorful tiles painted by many creative hands form a mosaic on the Envirocan's other three sides. Here's the face of a happy critter in a tree, and some flowers.
Colorful tiles painted by many creative hands form a mosaic on the Envirocan’s other three sides. Here’s a happy face in a tree, and some flowers.
Keep our Earth clean!
Keep our Earth clean!
A house in a beautiful pristine landscape.
A house in a beautiful pristine landscape.
Flower Power
Flower Power
A human eye. A smudge of dirt looks like a tear.
A human eye. A smudge of something looks like a tear.
Fish enjoy a clean blue ocean.
Fish enjoy a clean blue ocean.
I'm not sure what this is, but it looks pretty cool!
I’m not sure what this is, but it looks pretty cool!
Someone is poking their nose over a fence.
Someone is poking their nose over a fence.
One tile on the Envirocan features the Enviro-can!
One tile on the Envirocan features the Enviro-can!
A happy face of many colors.
A happy face of many colors.
Another lively underwater scene.
Another lively underwater scene.
And another face!
And another beautiful face!
A clean river flows down from green hills between trees.
A clean river flows down from green hills between trees.
Wisdom is often found in a balance. Yin and yang. All things are connected.
Wisdom is often found in a balance. Yin and yang. All things are connected.
Looks like a weird underwater image. Not sure about the cube with tentacles.
Looks like a weird underwater scene. Not sure about the cube with tentacles.
Birds in a clear blue sky under a golden sun.
Birds in a clear blue sky under a golden sun.
Lots more smiley faces! They almost look like leaves to me.
Lots more smiley faces! They almost look like leaves to me.
A red heart on patchwork colors. Love.
A red heart on patchwork colors. Love.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Two cool sculptures at a National City marina!

This old rusty steel skeleton of a ship is actually one of two cool sculptures near the Pier 32 Marina in National City.
This old rusty steel skeleton of a ship is actually one of two cool sculptures near the Pier 32 Marina in National City.

Check out these two very cool sculptures! I spotted them as I walked from a National City trolley station to Pepper Park yesterday, on my way to the big International Mariachi Festival.

Both of these sculptures are located at the Pier 32 Marina. And both are a lot of fun!

This huge metal sculpture by the marina flags is called Le Bateau Ivre, by artist Alber De Matteis, 2008.
This huge metal sculpture by the marina flags is called Le Bateau Ivre, by artist Alber De Matteis, 2008.
Close look at a work of very cool nautical art!
More detailed photo of this work of awesome nautical art! Looks like a ghost ship!
The second sculpture, just down a pathway, is School of Blue Bottle Noses, by artist David Boyer, 2008. It was part of an Urban Trees exhibition on San Diego's Embarcadero.
The second sculpture, just down a pathway, is School of Blue Bottle Noses, by artist David Boyer, 2008. It was part of an Urban Trees exhibition on San Diego’s Embarcadero.
Those blue Bottlenoses are actually bottles! Like a pod of turning dolphins, they shift direction in the wind!
Those blue Bottlenoses are actually bottles! Like a pod of turning dolphins, they shift direction in the wind!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!

Cool street art in a Mission Beach alley!

Cool street art faces in a Mission Beach alley peer from behind trash bins.
Faces in a Mission Beach alley peer from behind trash bins.

During my walk down Mission Boulevard through Mission Beach, I discovered an alley just south of Pismo Court that’s overflowing with super creative street art! A friendly dude named Vinny told me he created the scrap metal sculptures, and his buddy painted the walls. Check it out!

Some awesome street art can be seen in an alley off Mission Boulevard just south of Pismo Court. Local guys have painted walls and created cool metal sculptures.
Awesome street art can be seen in an alley off Mission Boulevard just south of Pismo Court. Local guys have painted walls and created cool metal sculptures.
A spray painted sea lion near a door in the alley.
A spray painted sea lion near a door in the alley.
A sea turtle and dolphin swim across a wall.
A sea turtle and dolphin swim across a wall.
The sculpture with American flag was created by Vinny after 911, who used scrap metal that he found discarded in the neighborhood.
The sculpture with American flag was created by Vinny after 911, who used scrap metal that he found discarded in the neighborhood.
Loads of creative art and fun beachy stuff in front of Vinny's place, an example of the cool Mission Beach vibe.
Loads of creative art and fun beachy stuff in front of Vinny’s place, an example of the happy, laid-back Mission Beach vibe.
This alley is like a treasure chest full of street art gold!
This alley is like a treasure chest full of street art gold!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Colorful (and funny) street art in Pacific Beach!

Street mural by artist Amandalynn, painted in 2016 near Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach.
Street mural by artist Amandalynn, painted in 2016 near Mission Boulevard in Pacific Beach.

On Saturday I walked down Mission Boulevard through both Pacific Beach and Mission Beach. I was blown away by some of the really cool street art that I found. As you’ll see, many of the colorful murals that I spied in Pacific Beach were painted just last year.

This batch of photos represents my walk south along Mission Boulevard, which is a block from the beach, from around Emerald Street to Pacific Beach Drive. In a coming blog post, I’ll share the fun and very unusual art I encountered as I continued south through Mission Beach.

A second photo of the eye-catching art, which shows beautiful ladies in a colorful underwater scene.
A second photo of the eye-catching mural by Amandalynn, which shows beautiful ladies in a colorful underwater scene.
The Pacific Beach Mermaid hangs out on a colorful wall. Art by Jared Blake Lazar a.k.a Jared Black Lazer.
The Pacific Beach Mermaid hangs out on a rock painted on a wall. Art by Jared Blake Lazar a.k.a Jared Black Lazer.
A humorous sign on the sidewalk. Head into this barber shop and come out a completely different person!
A humorous sign on the sidewalk. Head into this barber shop and come out a completely different person!

I don’t know if some critics would classify the above as art–but it was undeniably funny!

Street art on a utility box. The curl of this coffee's steam resembles the surf beyond the sand.
Street art on a utility box. The curl of this coffee’s steam resembles the surf beyond the sand.
Bunny Kitty carries a cigarette butt away as a fierce sea monster emerges from the deep. Pacific Beach art created in 2016 by Dave Persue for PangeaSeed.
Bunny Kitty carries a cigarette butt away as a fierce sea monster emerges from the deep. Pacific Beach art created in 2016 by Dave Persue for PangeaSeed.
A cool mural near The Local Pacific Beach, painted in 2016 by artists Sean Dietrich and Kai Martin. A blonde on roller skates, the PB boardwalk, beach, and a very strange car.
A cool mural near The Local Pacific Beach restaurant and bar, painted in 2016 by artists Sean Dietrich and Kai Martin. A blonde on roller skates, the PB boardwalk, surfboards, and a rather unusual car.
A very funny utility box. This side shows a woman at the beach covering the eyes of a small boy.
A very funny utility box. This side shows a woman at the beach covering the eyes of a small boy.
The next side shows Pacific Beach tourists who have spotted something that is both interesting and alarming.
Another side shows Pacific Beach tourists who have spotted something that is both interesting and alarming.
100 years of skating talent between us, but...
100 years of skating talent between us, but…
...nobody notices!
…nobody notices!
A friendly purple mermaid watches people driving down Mission Boulevard.
Another utility box is covered with mermaids.  This friendly purple mermaid watches humans driving down Mission Boulevard.
Another mermaid on the same box.
Another long-haired mermaid on the same box.
And a third happy mermaid!
And a third happy mermaid!
Two ladies walking along the edge of a parking lot toward the nearby beach. They pass someone snoozing in a hammock strung between palm trees.
Two ladies walking along the edge of a parking lot toward the nearby beach. They pass someone snoozing in a hammock strung between palm trees.
Street art on storage doors shows a surfer climbing toward a lifeguard tower at sunset.
Street art on doors shows a surfer climbing toward a lifeguard tower at sunset.
One final close look at the gorgeous art painted by muralist Amandalynn in Pacific Beach.
One additional look at the gorgeous art painted in 2016 by muralist Amandalynn in Pacific Beach.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of fun photos for you to share and enjoy!